|15||World Program Survey/Starvation of N. Korean People/Reports of Food Shortages/US to Denote 300 Metric Tons in Food Aid to the World Food Program 1998 Appeal|
|15||Issue of Whether Food Aid is Being Diverted/Congressional Staff Report that Stated Food Aid is Clearly Saving Lives/Vast Majority is Put to Proper Use/1999 Agreement/Monitoring of Food Aid|
|15||USG has not Detected Diversion of Food/Pictures of Starving Children and N. Koreas Decisions on How it Uses its Resources|
|15-16||USG Not to Impose Political Criteria When it Comes to Helping Innocent People|
QUESTION: While you're still on Asia, another question
about North Korea but not having to do with missiles -- there
was a horrifying report in today's New York Times based on a World
Food Program survey about malnutrition, starvation are endemic
of North Korea, hitting particularly young children. In view of
that apparently authoritative survey, do you have any doubts about
the US food supply of being diverted, or do you have any plans
to change the mode by which it is being distributed?
MR. FOLEY: Well, the full report is not out yet for our
review, but drafts of the findings we've read certainly match
other international agencies' assessments that food shortages
persist in North Korea. It's based on these independent findings
that the US determine to donate an additional 300,000 metric tons
to the World Food Program's 1998 appeal. In light of the continuing
humanitarian need, we urge other nations to contribute as well.
Now, in terms of our assessment about whether the food aid we
provide is going to intended recipients and has not been diverted,
I am happy to restate our position on that, which is not going
to be news to you because we've said it before, but I'm happy
to do so. In August of 1998, three congressional staffers released
a report that they wrote after their visit that month to North
Korea. They concluded that international food aid clearly saved
lives. They stated that food assistance is feeding nearly every
child under the age of seven. Most US Government assistance is
directed to children 12 years and under.
One World Food Program high-level official recently stated, "I can guarantee that the vast majority of resources channeled through the WFP is put to proper use in North Korea." While monitor access and the tempo of operations are improving, we would, of course, like to see greater openness regarding the food situation. We would like to see the number of monitors increased and their freedom of access further expanded. We have made clear to the North Koreans the importance of this matter; in fact, the DPRK recently issued visas to additional World Food Program monitors and agreed to a 1999 PVO consortium program.
QUESTION: Well, my question is, in light of this survey,
which appears to be much more authoritative than three congressional
staffers running around, is the United States going to do anything
MR. FOLEY: Well, under our arrangement with the World Food
Program, monitoring the food assistance is required. No US aid
is distributed if it cannot be monitored. The World Food Program
and the US private volunteer organization consortium - this PVO
I mentioned - monitor the distribution of US food aid in the DPK.
No significant diversion of US Government assistance has been
detected. So that really is our assessment, Jim.
With the recent announcement of an additional 300,000 metric tons
of food contributed by the US, the number of monitors will increase.
We continue to believe that the present monitoring situation,
while considerably less than ideal, has allowed our assistance
to reach those for whom it is intended.
QUESTION: What would you say about the leadership of a
country that allowed its children to starve to death, as we saw
in the pages of the newspapers today - skin and bones in classrooms,
malnourished, mal-developed, brain abnormalities as a result of
it. What would you say about a government that would allow that
to go on while still maintaining a million-man army - a well-fed
million-man army? And what about the $5 billion going to, perhaps,
feeding its people instead of building nuclear reactors? What
about them building suspect underground sites rather than feeding
MR. FOLEY: Well, I really couldn't quarrel with anything
that you just said, Sid. Your points reflect our views about the
nature of that regime, about its dysfunctional economic system,
about its choices on how to allocate its resources. We have profound
and fundamental differences with this regime. At the same time,
we have made it very clear as a policy decision and as a reflection
of what we stand for as a people, that we're not going to impose
political criteria when it comes to helping to feed innocent people
who are victims of some of the facts and policies that you describe.
[end of document]